Harare - A leading Zimbabwe cleric and businessman confirmed Sunday that he had been questioned by police after he allegedly described soon-to-be introduced bank notes as "infamous".
In a sign of just how sensitive an issue the new bond notes are in cash-strapped Zimbabwe, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe head Shingi Munyeza said on Twitter that a report in the privately-owned Standard newspaper that he'd been questioned by the police on Friday was true.
Some of his comments about bond notes were on social media.
President Robert Mugabe called the bond notes a "surrogate currency" on Thursday in comments that will do little to stem the rising tide of panic over the new bank notes, which are only likely to come into circulation in October.
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (to which Munyeza belongs) said last week that church-goers had "expressed a lot of panic" over bond notes.
Worsening economic crisis
Zimbabwe officially abandoned its own currency in 2009 after hyperinflation rendered it worthless.
Savings accounts and pensions were wiped out. Many locals are worried this will happen again if Zimbabwe prints its own bank notes.
Munyeza is one of several churchmen who have dared speak out publicly about the fears and frustrations of Zimbabweans as they face up to the country's worsening economic crisis. Another is Evan Mawarire, the leader of the online #ThisFlag movement.
Munyeza appears to have annoyed some officials by a statement he released at the end of last month warning Zimbabweans that they faced another time of power, fuel, water and cash shortages.
As the cash squeeze worsens, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week had to delay the payment of pensioners again "to allow for the mobilisation of requisite resources", according to an official statement. Some banks can now only dispense in low denomination notes of $5 and $10 rather than in $50 and $100 notes as they used to.
Several Zimbabweans expressed their support for Munyeza on social media on Sunday.
"Praying for Dr Munyeza to continue the good work," tweeted @VimbaiMundondo. @ResurrectZimbabwe said the incident was a sign of an "increasingly paranoid government."
Munyeza told the Standard newspaper that he had assured police he was a "law-abiding citizen". He was not arrested.